I was excited to get an argumentative comment on my blog today! I started to write a response, but its length wouldn’t quite allow me to leave this in the comments section. So, whatever your position, feel free to discus Jim’s and my perspectives. The comment was to my post, Perfect Lover, and you can read his comment here. Check Jim out on his own blog, TheCommonAtheist, and his related post, Faith Trap.
Check out another response post I wrote: Awful
You present an interesting case, and I’m left wondering whether to defend my position, which is openly that of personal experience, not statistics but anecdote, or to parse out your underlining counterargument. Both seem required.
So, to shore up my point, and perhaps clarify it, my experience in dealing one on one with atheists is that of dealing with nonthought. This is undoubtedly not universal, as I have grown up in a very atheistic climate: my teachers, friends, television shows, books, and basically everything but my family has time and again propagandized atheism, specifically materialism. Therefore this position becomes assumed, and is often defended—that is within the microcosm of my life—by social pressure and not argument. That then is my observation, and I do not intend it is as argument.
Your position, however, seems an argument, at least loosely. That is not meant as insult, only so much to classify your argument as informal, or better yet, conversational. Forgive me in that I can be flamboyant in writing, and as such this may seem less organic than your comment.
Taking time to go over your more recent blog posts, I think I get a sense of your position. Let’s start from the bottom, that last statement, which interpreted in the extreme would come out as saying something along the lines as, nothing about the church is good, but a more liberal reading may say, any good the church has is not intrinsic to the church, and therefore the church should be jettisoned as it spoils whatever good it does possess by bringing along immoral and or amoral aspects.
Defending the church, or anything, from unspecified critiques is rolling a boulder up the hill. I have no idea what bad or good you’re talking about in this case. Actually, I have no idea of bad or good outside of a spiritual framework, and as your position appears to be that of atheism, I wonder how you’re defining morality in this argument? Assuming you’re taking a subjective stance on morality, I would counter that your claim regarding the church is just your opinion, one held by a minority, and in a subjective morality free of reason, I know no better standard than democracy, say perhaps that of natural selection which allows for both of our positions as it allows for right and left handedness. This is really all to say, that attacking the church on the grounds of morality without grounding morality is meaningless babble. So, I am left with the only other assumption: your argument only makes sense if we accept an absolute morality.
Unfortunately, in all my conversations with atheists—in this case, materialists—I have yet to comprehend how an absolute morality can fit into a worldview without accepting the supernatural, and in essence, good and bad seem supernatural to me. Therefore, I find this final point of yours faltering poppycock, unthoughtful vitriol. It’s unspecific, and without any supporting points, resides on the level of a schoolyard insult, “Church is bad!” Hardly an example of your major thesis, that I’m wrong in my observations regarding the unmindful position of atheism. It’s contradictory to your other position of atheism as far as I understand the term. If you hold an atheistic position which incorporates any absolutes, in other words positing immaterial truths, I’d challenge it as self-contradictory, but having never experienced such an animal, am willing to hear out such a position and possibly reform mine.
Moving up the ladder: Your penultimate point, which comprises almost half of your paragraph, is indefensible. Your testimony fails substantially: you have neither the knowledge to make the claim, nor account for the whole of human history pregnant with contradictory testimony. It’s such a ridiculous position, I request that you actually think about it for all of three minutes. Two attacks can be leveled immediately. One, knowledge on the level of omniscience is needed to make this claim. For starters, you would have to know every prayer from the beginning to the end of time. Two, watering down your statement to the level of, the world is not such that prayers are answered, is automatically assuming your own position. The argument boils down to, atheism is true because I say so. People think that God answered their prayer, but since there is no God there is another explanation. Therefore there is no God. Tautology can be useful, but in this context comes across as lazy thinking. A proof cannot use its conclusion as the premise supporting that same conclusion.
Looking over the poetic post you linked to—and I goodheartedly would be interested in reading more of your poetry in this vein, it seemed to come from the heart—I see that you personally prayed fruitlessly. I won’t try to reform your experience to fit my worldview, but hope you understand how little weight I credit the argument. You’ve probably heard the old joke: insanity is when one person hallucinates a voice; religion is when people hallucinate the voice on a massive scale. I would counter that not hearing what the majority hears is more likely deafness, not wisdom. In a case like yours, I more likely credit an inability, or unwillingness, to hear, whatever intentions you posit, rather than a proof against God’s existence. (Forgive if I misunderstand the poem, for the bit about the voice in the crickets seems to lead away from the conclusion, a branch undeveloped. I don’t get the transition from there to the unraveling.)
Finally, I feel I can tackle your opening point, but hope the preceding body has already defended my position. Not all atheists come to their conclusions primarily by emotion, but in my experience that always is the case. Even in my short purview of your blog I find mostly angry rants, and why shouldn’t you be angry? I know I’m angry that atheism is shoved down my throat every day, and that as a child people constantly bullied me for standing against the mainstream. You undoubtedly experienced the same thing, only in reverse.
So here you are, with the grit to call me out for something you disagree with, and you did so in a respectful way. You spoke the truth as best you see it, and for that I applaud you. I wrestled with what manner of response, if any, I should give, and settled on a purposely aggressive one in the hopes of provoking. In other words, if you have time, tear this apart. The existence of God is one of my favorite topics, and far more interesting to me than a petty point regarding the assumed motives of atheists.
Noticing your penchant for turkeys, I thought to share a picture of my favorite turkey for the featured image.
Crickets, as in silence, I get it now—Duh. My bad. I’m writing all this while fighting a cold, which explains the empty bottle of whisky.